(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIRECTOR ANTHONY FAUCI, SAYING: "The president has heard, as we all have heard, are what I call anecdotal reports that certain drugs work." Dr. Anthony Fauci of the U.S. National Institutes of Health on Sunday tried to clarify what seemed to be two opposite messages from the White House about a potential treatment for the coronavirus.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "This is a common malaria drug." Last week, at a news conference President Donald Trump touted the drugs chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine and others often prescribed to treat malaria, as showing signs they could treat the virus that causes the sometimes-fatal illness known as COVID-19.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP SAYING: "We're going to be able to make that drug available almost immediately.
And that's where the FDA has been so great.
They they've gone through the approval process.
It's been approved." Almost immediately, Trump was contradicted by members of his own administration.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FDA COMMISSIONER STEPHEN HAHN SAYING: "It's already approved, as the president said, for the treatment of malaria, as well as an arthritis condition." First, the head of the Food and Drug Administration clarified that that hydroxychloroquine was not yet approved to treat coronavirus, and that studies of the drug's effectiveness in combating the current pandemic had only just begun.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) FDA COMMISSIONER STEPHEN HAHN SAYING: "We want to do that in the setting of a clinical trial, a large, pragmatic clinical trial, to actually gather that information and answer the question that needs to be answered." The next day, reporters pressed Trump to explain his optimism when so little about the drug was known.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP IN AN EXCHANGE WITH NBC REPORTER PETER ALEXANDER, SAYING: ALEXANDER: "Is it possible that your impulse to put a positive spin on things, maybe giving Americans a false sense of hope?
Misrepresenting the preparedness right now?" (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: "No, I don't think so.
I think that, I think it's got.....such a lovely question...Look, it may work and it may not work and I agree with the doctor, what he said 'may work, may not work'.
I feel good about it.
Still, it is just a feeling, you know, I am a smart guy." And things between the press and the president quickly turned heated.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP IN AN EXCHANGE WITH NBC REPORTER PETER ALEXANDER, SAYING: ALEXANDER: "What do you say to Americans, who watching you right now, who are scared?" TRUMP: "I say that you're a terrible reporter, that's what I say.
[FLASH] "That's really bad reporting.
And you ought to get back to reporting instead of sensationalism, instead of reporting.
Let's see if it works, it might and it might not, I happen to feel good about it but who knows?
I've been right a lot.
Let's see what happens." Fauci on Sunday told CBS News that there was no fundamental disagreement between him and Trump, just that they answered the same question from different standpoints.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES DIRECTOR ANTHONY FAUCI, SAYING: "I'm not disagreeing with the fact, anecdotally they might work.
But my job is to prove definitively from a scientific standpoint that they do work.
So I was taking a purely medical, scientific standpoint, and the president was trying to bring hope to the people." Demand for the drugs Trump touted has surged since he spoke about them on Friday.
At least four U.S. state pharmacy boards have taken steps to limit prescriptions, which are now in short supply with the rapid spread of the outbreak.